KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — New University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Danny White is hitting the ground running.
Just four days after announcing the firing of Vols football coach Jeremy Pruitt and the departure of athletic director Phillip Fulmer, Chancellor Donde Plowman introduced White on Friday.
Here are 6 Things to Know about the press conference:
White the ‘builder’
When asked about what she was looking for in an AD, Plowman said the single most important thing was finding a “builder” of programs.
“That’s what I see I’m doing is trying to help build this university and take it to the next level and building this athletic department and this brand,” she said.
White did that during his first two athletic director jobs at Buffalo and Central Florida. The challenge of having to do it at a major SEC program was part of the reason he came to UT, he said.
“I like the fact the brand needs to be polished a little bit,” White said.
“If everything was humming here and going great, I wouldn’t be standing here. It wouldn’t be an attractive proposition for me.”
Manning: Find someone like White?
On Monday, Plowman said people close to the UT athletic program would be included in the search. One of those was Vols legend Peyton Manning. Plowman said the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist made a call to his former offensive coordinator and current Duke football coach David Cutcliffe.
Manning asked Cutcliffe what advice he should give.
“Tell her to pick somebody exactly like our athletic director, Kevin White,” Cutcliffe said.
Kevin White is Danny’s father and just announced he is retiring in August after spending 13 years at Duke.
Vision for future
With the prospect of having NCAA sanctions put on the football program, Danny White didn’t stray away from the challenges of the AD position.
“It’s going to be a big challenge. I was in a great situation. I never thought I’d leave.
“I’m not walking away from something. I’m running toward something that’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore one of the most iconic programs in college athletics.”Danny White, incoming University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics
White reiterated Plowman’s remarks from Monday that Tennessee will “do it the right way” while competing at the highest levels in collegiate athletics.
“This place has already shown and is showing in many sports we can compete for SEC championships, and we can compete for national championships,” White said.
“Nothing’s insurmountable. We can get through this.”
Finding the next football coach
White’s first task is finding a new leader of the Vols football program. He said he plans to move “quickly” and it starts with the members of the team.
“I have never started a coaching search without hearing from the student athletes,” he said.
The idea, white said, is that the team will vote on leaders and meet with him in small groups to share their thoughts and needs for the team.
As to what qualities the new leader of the Vols will have, integrity is at the top.
“I don’t want to even be interviewing them if I have questions about them.”Danny White, incoming University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics
White said there is no list of candidates yet, joking that everyone in attendance at the press conference was still a candidate for the job, the athletes will be the first ones to know who their new coach will be.
History of having the athletes’ backs
UCF took a lot of criticism following the 2017 football season. Despite going 13-0 the Knights were left out of the NCAA College Football Playoff. They would accept a bid to play in the Peach Bowl and defeat Auburn 34-27, ending the season as the No. 6 team in the country according to the Associated Press poll.
Danny White and UCF went on to declare the team national champions, despite not playing in the national championship game.
White now finds himself on the other side of the conversation that year as AD of a Southeastern Conference school and a Power 5 program.
“It’s kind of funny I’m on the other side of that conversation now, but if I had it to do all over again, I’d do it again,” he said. “Those kids, what they did deserved to be defended.
“There was more than one national champion that year.”
Calming the negativity
Both Plowman and White alluded to the negativity around the program on social media.
“we need to be positive,” Plowman said, echoing White. “I’m a grown-up so I can’t quite imagine what that’s like for a 19 year old, but I think that would be a great starting point for us today.”
“I hate to lose,” White said. “And I imagine our fans hate to lose as much as I do. I want the same thing that they do.”